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Topic: Due process and imminent domain

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND


HIGHWAYS (DPWH),

Petitioner, v. HON. ROSA SAMSON-TATAD, as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch
105, Quezon City, and SPOUSES WILLIAM AND REBECCA GENATO

On 13 July 2001, petitioner Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Department of Public Works and
Highways (DPWH), filed a Complaint against several defendants, including private respondents, for the
expropriation of several parcels of land affected by the construction of the EDSA-Quezon Avenue Flyover.

Private respondents, Spouses William and Rebecca Genato, are the registered owners of a piece of land
("subject property") covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. RT-11603 (383648)6 and having an
area of 460 square meters.

During the pendency of the proceedings, petitioner received a letter dated 14 June 2002 from Engr. Patrick
B. Gatan, Project Manager IV of the DPWH-NCR, reporting that the subject property was "government land
and that the transfer certificate of title of the said claimant respondent x x x is of dubious origin and of
fabrication as it encroached or overlapped on a government property." 7 As a result, petitioner
filed an Amended Complaint on 24 June 2002,8 seeking to limit the coverage of the proceedings
to an area conforming to the findings of the DPWH: chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

4. To accomplish said project, which is to be undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways
[DPWH], it is necessary and urgent for plaintiff to acquire in fee simple portions of the following parcels of
land belonging to, occupied, possessed, and/or the ownership of which are being claimed by the defendants,
to wit.

On 18 July 2002, petitioner filed a Manifestation and Motion9 to have the subject property "declared or
considered of uncertain ownership or subject to conflicting claims."

In an Order dated 10 December 2002,10 the RTC admitted petitioner's Amended Complaint, deferred the
release to respondents the amount of eighteen million four hundred thousand pesos (P18,400,000)
deposited in the bank, equivalent to the current zonal valuation of the land, and declared the property as
the subject of conflicting claims.

While petitioner was presenting evidence to show that the subject property actually belonged to
the Government, private respondents interposed objections saying that petitioner was barred
from presenting the evidence, as it constituted a collateral attack on the validity of their TCT No.
RT-11603 (383648).

RTC: Accordingly, plaintiff is barred from presenting evidence as they [sic] constitute collateral attack on the
validity of the title to the subject lot in violation of Sec. 48 of P. D. 1529.

CA: since the subject property was covered by a Torrens title, Presidential Decree No. 1529, or the Property
Registration Decree (P. D. 1529), necessarily finds significance. Thus, it held that the RTC rightly applied
Sec. 48.

Issue: whether petitioner may be barred from presenting evidence to assail the validity of respondents' title
under TCT No. RT-11603 (383648).

SC: The Court Appeals is wrong.

Here, the attempt of petitioner to present evidence cannot be characterized as an "attack." It must be
emphasized that the objective of the case is to appropriate private property, and the contest on private
respondents' title arose only as an incident to the issue of whom should be rightly compensated.
Contrary to petitioner's allegations, the Complaint and Amended Complaint cannot also be considered as a
direct attack. The amendment merely limited the coverage of the expropriation proceedings to the
uncontested portion of the subject property. The RTC's Order declaring the property as subject of conflicting
claims is a recognition that there are varying claimants to the sums to be awarded as just compensation.
This serves as an authority for the court to conduct a limited inquiry on the property's ownership

Ratio:

Expropriation, or the exercise of the State's right to eminent domain, is proscribed by the restraints of public
use and just compensation.26It is governed by Rule 67 of the Rules of Court, which presents procedural
guidelines for the court to ensure that due process is observed and just compensation rightly paid to the
private owners.